B Well Beat: Hiking and biking and geocaching, oh my!
By Christine Bruen
As a recent graduate from the University of Farmington, I set my sails and landed here at the Healthy Community Coalition (HCC) as an intern. Not really knowing what path I was going to take with a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education, but knowing that my passion was hiking, biking, kayaking, and just being outside.
When I got to HCC, staff informed me that there was a grant initiative that was funded through the Environmental Funders Network. That meant that I was going to be able to put my education and experience to good use, all while doing what I love.
Being able to get people to exercise and maintain a healthy diet is a difficult task, because it’s not always easy to make time in our busy day to be healthy and exercise on a regular basis. Even I find myself indulging in the luxury foods that are so easily accessible, including my addiction to sour patch kids, and relaxing a little too much when I know I should be active. Exercise can be a scary word to some, but in reality it doesn’t have to be. The Environmental Funders Network provided us with a physical activity grant that we are using to promote local hiking, walking, biking, and even geocaching (a treasure hunt that includes using a handheld GPS mapping system).
The one area of physical activity that I absolutely love is hiking and its thrill when you finally reach the top of the mountain. Having lived in Farmington for four years while in college, I would have never have guessed how many places and mountains that you can hike just in this area. Did you?
Now you can find out too! As part of the Mapping our Footsteps initiative, HCC partnered with the Center for Community GIS (CCGIS) to build a Web site. It was designed with a focus on walking and hiking trails in Greater Franklin County, but has grown so that you can find trails throughout Maine. The Web site, www.mainetrailfinder.com went live in June 2010. This site, is free to use, and contains helpful information including directions to the trailheads (start of the trail), details about parking and picnic areas, the length of the trail, and how difficult each trail is. This Web site is user friendly, so that you can find the perfect walk or hike for your current physical activity level. There are also reviews that you can read and photos posted by other hikers, walkers, bikers, and geocachers alike.
Another part of Mapping our Footsteps is our www.meetup.com Web site where you can sign up and find out where hikes are planned in Greater Franklin County and beyond. I will be leading some of these hikes, so if you’re interested in hiking, biking, walking, or geocaching check out this Web site to find out more. Being outside is a fun way to exercise and to explore our state’s well-known and unknown hidden treasures!
All the information that is provided at the www.mainetrailfinder.com and www.meetup.com Web sites were gathered by a group of volunteers from all over. You can find hikes and meet people with the same interests as you. These dedicated volunteers climbed, walked, biked, and wrote detailed descriptions of places like Hunter Cover Wildlife Sanctuary in Rangeley and North Granite Park.
We are hoping to increase the amount of physical activity that people participate in through the use of our natural resources, and to increase the knowledge of the history of the Greater Franklin County. If you or someone you know can provide any history and stories about trails that you have hiked, please let us know. We are always looking for good stories to share about trails, so please share your story with us.
If you have any further questions about the Web sites or are looking to share any stories, please contact program coordinator, Leanne DiMaio at 779-2933 or write: firstname.lastname@example.org